Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to the newest version of your browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of Construction News, please enable cookies in your browser.

Welcome to the Construction News site. As we have relaunched, you will have to sign in once now and agree for us to use cookies, so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Simplifying the prequalification

It is often difficult for SMEs to understand why contractors require what seems sometimes an unfeasible quantity of information in ‘qualifying’ or ‘accrediting’ their suppliers. By Lee Parkinson

There is no shortage of stories of subcontractors that have spent ages completing the prequalification questionnaire, never to hear the phone ring.

Forward thinking subcontractors should look at accreditation processes as an effective way of selling the very best characteristics of their business. Good management of your key business information is essential to ensure that your responses to prospective clients are efficient and professional.

While there are a plethora of prequalification questionnaire formats, they all cover similar ground. Keeping your company information up to date will make prequalification an easier, if not entirely painless, process.

All prequalification questionnaires will request basic company information such as contact details, registered office, company registration details, VAT certificate details and insurances. There will probably be specific questions on health and safety, quality, financial information, supply chain management and references. Good preparation is essential.

A great start is a knowledge directory. You can develop your own or build it around a comprehensive prequalification questionnaire you receive.

Simply index the directory around the key category areas and maintain an up to date record of supporting information. If you keep adding to it as you fill in questionnaires you will ultimately develop a comprehensive resource for prospective customers.

It is vitally important to ensure that your responses are consistent. It is better to get one or a small number of your staff to manage this rather than spreading the workload across the business.

Your response should always be seen as a statement of intent. If the questionnaire is a mess, what will the prospective customer think of your workmanship?

Request an electronic copy of the questionnaire for completion. It will always look better than your very best handwriting. Structure the response with any supporting documents set out as appendices.

While the client is most interested in your company’s capabilities, a professional approach to the questionnaire is a good first step.

Ask for feedback

After investing all that effort into a great response you have every right to find out what the client thinks. Again, it is a statement of intent. If you are keen to hear what the customer thought of your response they are more likely to be keen to do business.

The construction industry is beginning to adopt online prequalification, where the questionnaire is completed via accessing a secure website. These solutions, if free of charge to supplier and subcontractors, are cost effective in reducing paperwork and the risk of the questionnaire being lost is taken away. However, they do require you to be IT savvy.

Prequalification may require a lot of effort, but with a professional approach it can provide a solid foundation to the next business opportunity.

Lee Parkinson is director of Parkinson Procurement Solutions